Architectural Preservation at Fort Snelling

A couple years ago I entered Dwell Magazine’s Rethinking Preservation contest.  The magazine asked readers to send in photos and a proposal for what they thought would be a landmark or building worthy of preserving.  I immediately thought of the Upper Post of Fort Snelling.  The 40 or so buildings of the Upper Post had been mostly boarded up since the 1940’s and were in danger of being torn down.

I didn’t win the contest (that wine fridge would have been nice – winning’s not bad either) but I really appreciated how much I learned about the fort and Minnesota’s history and the connection to the U.S. – Dakota War of 1862.

Here is what I wrote –

At the confluence of the Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers lies the Fort Snelling Historic Site, a landmark so rich in historical and environmental significance, it is referred to as the “birthplace of Minnesota.”

Established in 1819, the fort was built to control traffic and a thriving fur trade with the Native population on two major rivers and the exploding population of white settlers. The Indian Agency was also built here – the U.S. embassy to the American Indian Nations. The creation of Minnesota was negotiated here. This site is also sacred Indian land – Coldwater Spring, a 10,000 year old spring is very close by.

Dred Scott, enslaved with his wife at Fort Snelling, sued for their freedom here leading to the Dred Scott decision.

During the U.S.-Dakota War in 1862, 1600 Dakota Sioux were held here in a concentration camp and many of them died here.

Fort Snelling was an induction point for hundreds of thousands of soldiers from the Civil War until World War II.

A national historic landmark, on the National Register of Historic Places, the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the Preservation Alliance both list the fort as one of the most endangered places in the U.S.

In the words of grand chief Eddie Benton Benais,  “My grandfather . . . many times he retold how . . . his family . . . as a small boy traveled by foot, by horse, by canoe to this great place to where there would be these great religious, spiritual events . . . a sacred place, a neutral place, a place for many nations to come . . . a spring that all nations used to draw the sacred water for the ceremony . . . How we take care of the water is how it will take care of us.”

Below are a few photos of the Upper Post – to be clear, most of these buildings were built around the turn of the century and were not the buildings that housed American Indians during the U.S. – Dakota War.  That portion of the fort is not far away from these buildings, however.

Barracks_Plane_B Row of houses are former officers' quarters Post Headquarters of Upper Post of Fort Snelling Historic SiteOne of the large barracks at Fort Snelling's Upper Post

Winning the contest would have meant that one of the organizations responsible for renovating the fort would have received $10,000.  There is good news for the fort however, plans are moving forward to renovate the fort.  A charter school, Upper Mississippi Academy has moved in to temporary buildings and will soon occupy 9 of the architecturally significant buildings that have been vacant for decades.  Also, 58 apartments for homeless vets will be built in 5 rehabilitated buildings by Common Bond and possibly be ready for occupancy by summer of 2014.

The fort has also benefited from a program to have inmates from various correctional facilities work on the buildings and learn carpentry, roofing and masonry.

In the future post I hope to publish photos of the newly restored Coldwater Spring which is not pictured here.

By the way, here’s the winning project –

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Photos Published in This Old House Magazine

Once again, too much time has passed since my last post, apologies, time slips away so easily.  Last summer my photos appeared in This Old House Magazine in the July 2013 issue.  I had traveled to Duluth, Minnesota to take photos of a kitchen that had won an award for the annual reader created Do It Yourself makeover issue.  The young family who remodeled their kitchen did a great job creating a new space from the old kitchen.  Have a look.  Photo styling by Shannon Gale.

This Old House July 2013 Reader Created Do It Yourself Makeover page 1

This Old House July 2013 Reader Created Do It Yourself Makeover page 1

ThisOldHouse2 ThisOldHouse3

Young boy writes on chalk board while mother watches in pretty white kitchenKitchen_AngleSink_WallClose up of farmhouse sink and marble backsplash and countertopCorner of kitchen showing large chalkboard in old rustic frameBuilt-in cabinets with charging station for smart phones and other accessoriesFrosted glass door of pantry in white kitchenWoman places towel in laundy shoot in kitchenPretty white kitchen showing stove and counter area and touches of color

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Photos For Rap Group

On several occasions between 1995 and 1999, I took photos of a north Minneapolis rap group called North Side Hustlaz Clic.  Recently they called to ask me if I would take photos of them again.  I said, “Hmmm, I dunno, I’m an architectural photographer now.”  My specialty has been architectural photography for many years now but I often take photos of people within an environment, whether it be interior or exterior.  After some hesitation, I said sure, why not.  Sometimes it’s good to shake things up a bit and do something different.  It forces you to brush up on some skills.

Northside Hustlaz Clic have not worked together as a group in 13 years, but are back together again to record an CD, “Back On Tha Scene,” and new photos were needed.  The members of the group are Trey Eighty, Endo, Stray Ray and Philthy Money.  The newest member, Philthy Money, who is the son of Trey Eighty, had just been born when I took photos of them years ago.

Check out Versitale Records website where you’ll find more information and videos, or North Side Hustlaz Clic Facebook page.

Says Trey Eighty, “Versitale Records has a lot in store for Minnesota in the next decade.”

Here are some of the photos from our session.

North Side Hustlaz Clic





North Side Hustlaz Clic

Back on tha Scene

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My Photography Featured in Trends Magazine Video

Time to post something new to my blog – it’s been way too long.  Please take a look at the video below.  It features all my photography and shows a beautiful space designed by Meyer, Scherer & Rockcastle Architecture of Minneapolis.  I also talked about this space in a previous blog post from July of 2011 – “My photographic lighting featured in Popular Photography Magazine.”

The design of this loft space won an AIA Rave (American Institute of Architects) award for the architecture firm – see webpage here – Meyer, Scherer & Rockcastle loft.  And it also won a first place award from the ASID (American Society of Interior Designers).

Here’s the article below that appears in the current Trends Magazine for March 2013, Vol. 28, No. 10.

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Boneshaker Books

A little over a year ago I photographed a project for the local chapter of Architecture for Humanity – Boneshaker Books, a new progressive, non-profit, all volunteer bookstore.  Working with an all volunteer staff, Boneshaker Books offers progressive literature, fiction, children’s books, a Saturday story time for children, progressive and neighborhood related events and bicycle delivery of books.

A charitable organization, Architecture for Humanity declares in it’s mission statement  that it is, “Building a more sustainable future using the power of design.  Through a global network of building professionals, Architecture for Humanity brings design, construction and development services to communities in need.”  To learn more about their work you can go to their website –

Working with partner organizations and also self contained, Architecture for Humanity has been active around the world including Pakistan, Haiti, India, Africa, New Orleans, Sri Lanka, Iran . . . the list goes on.

At Boneshaker Books, AFH offered design and lighting services.  You can see more information and some of my photos at this post on the Worldchanging website – possibly one of the world’s largest sustainability websites, a clearinghouse for solutions-based journalism about sustainability and the global future.

To learn more about Architecture for Humanity you can also check out their latest newsletter from Spring of 2012.

I also took photos of The Family Place for Architecture for Humanity which I talked about in a past post – January 2011.

Here are a few of my photos from Boneshaker Books –

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Garden Photos Published in Midwest Home – April/May 2012 issue

In  the summer of 2010, I gave myself an assignment and photographed a garden in my neighborhood for my portfolio and website.  The homeowners were kind enough to allow me access to their wonderful garden at many different times of the day including early morning and late evening.  There were so many possibilities for photos in this garden and house that I returned again in the summer of 2011 to take more photos I felt I had missed the first time.  Because of the amount of time I spent on this project it was gratifying to have the photos published.  I still have some photos from the project which I haven’t had a chance to process.  There’s almost no end to the amount of time I can spend photographing a garden.  I love the process of watching, waiting and finding the best time of day or night to capture a particular feature.  It’s not at all like watching paint dry . . . for me.

The garden was designed by Ron Beining Associates and the new house which was built to fit beautifully into an older neighborhood was designed by Rehkamp Larson Architects.  The focus of attention in this garden is a really unique garden shed made by HSP Garden Buildings of England which features a hipped metal (lead) roof.

Thanks to Midwest Home for the lovely layout!

(I have also included a Scribd embedded version below but the best quality way to view these pages larger is if you just click on each page/photo.  You’ll have to back click to get back to this page.)

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More Alaska Photos

I thought I would revisit my Alaska trip (see blog post from Dec. 2011) and post more photos I took while I was there photographing a bed and breakfast last summer – 2011.  I had a few days to travel on my own and take photos.

Denali National Park –

Tour buses rounding the tight curves of the very narrow and steep gravel road, the only road in Denali National Park –

Fish stories in Seward –

The bounty is amazing –

Glacier in Kenai Fjords National Park near Seward –

George Parks Highway on the way to Denali –

The North Pole someday –

The moon has a wacky orbit up there, compared to what I am accustomed to – it moves sideways –

An orca pod in Kenai Fjords National Park –

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